Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ace, my brother.

     I started this blog 4 months ago, and that's how this works sometimes, I get a little inspiration, but then don't know which direction it will take me in.  I chip away at some, like a sculptor, envisioning something in stone and then spending weeks chipping away what doesn't belong. Other times I write like the Hemingway quote “There is nothing to writing, all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.", although many of my family and friends think I write like another famous Hemingway quote "Write drunk; edit sober".  This blog was a combination of the 3 methods above and I hope it does justice to the relationship that I share with this brother.

     Were we always close?  Not a chance.  One of his favorite stories from our youth is how he used to "babysit" me at the local park. We'd walk down there together and he'd strap me into a swing, push me a few times, and then leave me there trapped and dangling 2 feet off the ground, while he went and played basketball.  That didn't exactly put him in the running for "Brother of the Year", but did define our relationship for many years, older brother with things to do, younger brother who got underfoot.  The four years that separated us might as well have been fifty in our youth as there was nothing I could teach him, and I thought that he knew everything, and we were both right.  I'll freely
Hello? Is anyone still there?
admit a little hero worship of him while growing up, and why wouldn't I, he seemed to have it all. He was an athlete, pickup football games across the street, basketball at St. Mary's and later track in High School. He had an knack for the mechanics of things and got to work with my father, and unlike some of us others, didn't annoy him at all.  He had a wide range of friends, a sweet car (a cherry red Scamp), and then there were the girls.  I can't exaggerate the number of girls that my brother Ace brought home in both high school and the few years beyond while he was still living at home.  He seemed fearless in his pursuit of these women and I'll be honest, some of them were way out of his league, but yet there they were sitting on the couch next to him when I'd get home from work or school, so yeah, what's not to idolize? That was our relationship right up until I graduated high school, after that, the playing field leveled out.

     I graduated high school and worked full time while attending college.  I had moved out of my parents house and soon my brother was a regular visitor to my home.  This didn't change years later, when I married and it became our home, although, my wife does make me keep him quiet in the mornings when he visits, as we get a little loud for that hour of the day.  I visited him while he worked Bingo at the Knights of Columbus
Me, in the shadow of my brother Ace
hall (he met his wife doing that), and he visited me when I slung pizzas, first at Papa Franks (I wooed my wife doing this) and then at Morey's.  He had a history with the Morey's location, as he had worked for the owner of the West Avenue Diner, that was previously there.  He's still good friends with that boss, and that's one of his admirable qualities, the ease in which he makes friends and the investments he makes in keeping them.  If you are a friend of my brother Ace, you know it and know that he would do anything for you, cuz he likely already has.  After high school the hero worship of my brother faded, but a deep appreciation for what kind of man he was started, and has grown to this very day.  Of all my siblings, he reminds me most of my Dad.  It may be his jovial nature, or his ability to entertain a crowd, or his mastery of these weird things called tools (that seemed to skip over my skill set), or his flirtatious nature with women, or his love of family, or his ability to parent, I really can't define why, but he does remind me most of Dad.  He's always there when I need him too, just like my Dad.  When we purchased our home in Hall, our refrigerator was too tall to fit into the space underneath the cabinets. My wife was distraught that it would sit in the middle of the kitchen and I was of no help in this situation.  I called Ace and although it caused him grief at home, he came over immediately and shaved the cabinets so the fridge would roll right underneath.   I'm sure he told his wife, that's what brothers do, but you see, they don't always, but Ace does. I can't look around any room in my house and not see something that he helped to fix or that he gave me advice on how to fix.

     There are so many stories of our interactions that it's tough to choose them, but I'll try and pick some that show his character.  On the night prior to my wedding, he saved me from getting beaten up in a drunken fight.  Now, the person he saved me from was him, but I had been drinking, belligerent, was mouthing off and accusing him
Ace and me somewhere, they must have required mustaches.
wildly of dastardly deeds, but he calmly put me down and knelt on my arms until I was tired out of fighting.  A lesser man would have loosened a few of my teeth and deservedly so and my wedding pictures would have been entirely different, but that's not Ace.  Another time we were camping with friends and he set up an elaborate prank that made me think that sand in a fire would cause pretty blue/green flames and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Only when my wife suggested that she would use it for her Girl Scout Troop, did he reveal that he had planted a copper pipe in a piece of garden hose, under the sticks, and that was what caused the colors. I had about put the fire out by then by adding "Magic Sand" and trust me it
Ace cooking while camping
was funny as it sounds right now.  That is my brother Ace.  Speaking of my wife, she is unemployed right now and as expected Ace has been helping her to find work.  So far the pole dancer, the drug mule in Rochester, and the surrogate mother jobs haven't panned out for her, but he keeps calling to help.  That's my brother, Ace.

     I spoke of his ability as a father, and it's no coincidence that his sons are 2 of my favorite nephews, they are just like their Dad.  I learned from my father how to parent, but I also learned from this brother how to parent. Put their asses in church pews each week, on sports benches, in Scouts, and teach them to give back.   I suspect that my kids count him as their favorite uncle.  He has nicknames for them all and still plays the "Wingnut"
Me, Ace and Molly, and Dad
game with my youngest son (Whomever sees each other first, calls out Wingnut, and that's your name until next time you see each other).  Ace is slowing down a little now, but Ace going half tilt is still the most fun Uncle you'll ever have.  Ace has always worked in the blue collar trades of some sort, mechanic, home framing, chimney sweeping, environmental remediation, and a few others, but he has a knack, albeit unused for sales.  He has
Me, Char and Ace
an innate ability to find common bonds with people and make them instantly like him.  He can't fake interest in them, but he can have actual interest in other people and their experiences and the following is said of many people, but true of my brother, I've never met a person that didn't like him.  I visit a bar in Binghamton on occasion, and although it's been 5 years since Ace has been there, I'm never through my first beer before the patrons are asking about him and then start telling their stories of the times that he visited.  That's my brother Ace.

     I'll close this blog before I canonize my brother.  I'll reflect last on how we both have prioritized our time spent together over the years, because if you care for someone, don't you find excuses to spend time together? Sure you do.  In the 80's we played racquetball regularly. We next started playing euchre with another brother and brother in law. After that fell apart we joined a poker group and played together for many years. While we stopped doing it weekly, we still host a game a few times a year.   We created an annual
Christmas shopping trip, we created big family camping trips, we hosted and cooked for our family reunions often, he started a catering business and invited me along for the ride, we golf together not often or well, we worked charity events together, we were in each others weddings, we went to Vegas one time just the two of us, we have breakfast together almost every Saturday and we talk on the phone almost every day.  There are times that I catch him not really listening to what I've been saying and there are times that he catches me too, but when you talk every day and you spend as much time together as we do, you'll find a little predictability and redundancy in the conversation, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Our talks of retirement always includes each other, and we speak of playing euchre together at the American Legion or of chasing the women in the nursing home (we don't think we'll outlive our wives, we just think that we won't remember we are married at that point, and our wives may not remind us),or of building our own commune down south together with some of our shared friends.  I'm looking forward to that, and we might have enough time even, for him to teach me about tools. 

Cheers to you, my brother. 


cdyarger said...

Ace is quite a remarkable man, I will agree! He brings humor and love to all. I have never met anyone who did not like him either. He has always been there to help us, no matter what!! My kids have always appreciated and admired this particular uncle. Not mentioned is that he always called Molly "Mouse". I believe Dan was "Dan the Man", too. Even though Ace will tell you "Once you go Yarger, you never go back", I will be happy just having him as a brother-in-law! Thanks for keeping Bill in line so often, Ace!!!

cuzdee said...

That was awesome. There are many times I have witnessed the pranks and the flirtatiousness of both of you and it gets funnier every time. Tim used to spend a week with Ace when he would visit as a kid in a summer and has many found memories there too with his wife and boys. Two very awesome people with 2 great kids!!

ACE said...

Bill trust me when i say i probably get more from our relationship than you will ever know. I think i have to be nice to you for all i did when you were little. I think it works because we are alot alike...thanks for the kind words and see yaaa for breakfast. ACE

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